plural noun
jim·​jams | \ ˈjim-ˌjamz How to pronounce jimjams (audio) \

Definition of jimjams

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When jimjams entered English in the mid-19th century, it probably referred to a specific kind of jitters - the "delirium tremens," a violent delirium caused by excessive drinking. Jimjams is not particularly common today, but when it is used in current American English it means simply jitters. Etymologists aren't sure about the origin of the term. Some speculate that it came about as an alteration of delirium tremens. Others, though uncertain of the origin of jim and jam, notice that the word follows a pattern of similar words in which one sound is repeated or altered slightly. Interestingly, other words for jitters were formed in the same repetitive way - whim-whams and heebie-jeebies are examples.

First Known Use of jimjams

1852, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for jimjams

perhaps alteration of delirium tremens

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The first known use of jimjams was in 1852

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Cite this Entry

“Jimjams.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jimjams. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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noun plural
jim·​jams | \ ˈjim-ˌjamz How to pronounce jimjams (audio) \

Medical Definition of jimjams

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